University of Pittsburgh
August 1, 2007

Minnesota Bridge Collapse Underscores Larger Rotting of American Transportation Infrastructure, Says Pitt Engineer Kent Harries

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., highlights a systemic crisis in the American transportation infrastructure, said Kent Harries, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Engineering.

"Bridges collapse and they will continue to collapse," Harries said. "We need more responsible understanding that the infrastructure issue is a crisis today. If we don't believe it, we just need to start looking around."

The I-35 bridge in particular satisfied building codes of the early 1960s, but such standards changed significantly since then, said Harries, who is knowledgeable about current and past bridge building codes. Among the more important differences is that the I-35 bridge was not a redundant structure, meaning that if a key means of support gave out the weight would shift to other points on the bridge and prevent collapse.

"We know that we would not build a bridge like this today," Harries said of the Minnesota bridge.

Harries is available at 412-624-9873 or kharries@pitt.edu.

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